Furniture | E-cquisitions

An e-store with a passion for design and a powerful sense of fun

An online store that offers good design with a dash of wit

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An e-store with a passion for design and a powerful sense of fun

September 16 2010
Nicole Swengley

When Thorsten van Elten closed his London bricks-and-mortar design shop in 2008 to focus on the production, wholesale and distribution side of his business, he continued to run his online shop. This got a little neglected, though, and also confused people (“They kept asking what exactly I did”), so he has now rebranded the retail shop, using his middle name. The original site ( continues trading, but for production and wholesale only.

The new site, Theo, is crisp, fast and easy to navigate, with Thorsten’s passion for design and fun shining through. In addition to expected categories (furniture, lighting, bathroom, “kids’ stuff”), there’s a more personal “Theo Suggests” section, which includes “New Things, Good Old Favourites and British Made”. A themed, guest-curated “Theo Selects” section launches this month.

Wearing his “producer” hat, Thorsten acts as a catalyst in creating the site’s appealing products by bringing together designers and manufacturers. Many designs have a quirkiness or offbeat humour that distinguishes them from mainstream offerings. The bestsellers are, perhaps inevitably, designs that have featured heavily in magazine editorials: Ed Carpenter’s ever-popular bright, acrylic Pigeon lights (third picture, £65); Gitta Gschwendtner’s oversized earthenware Plant Cup (first picture, £159); Alexander Taylor’s wall-mounted Antlers coat-hanger (£59). Newer designs include eye-catching furniture such as André Klauser’s Mechano High steel bar-stool (second picture, £325), inspired by industrial shelving, and Nathalie Nebout’s One-to-Two folding trestle table in steel and oak (£295, excluding glass top).

Other featured designers include Barnaby Barford, byGraziela, Gavin Coultrip, Andreas Fabian, Helen Johannessen, Peter MacCann, Edward Robinson and Richard Shed. Meanwhile a carefully edited choice of designs from overseas companies (Boskke in New Zealand, Kovap in the Czech Republic, Rob Brandt in the Netherlands) includes the ever-popular ceramic Sky Planters by Patrick Morris (from £22.50).